The action kicks off with a pair of Thursday night contests, and is followed by 2 more on Friday, including an American Conference showdown in Cincinnati when the Bearcats host UCF.
The traveling Knights are a 4-1/2-point Vegas favorite, but the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com give the Bearcats a 5.83 point edge to end UCF's 19-game conference winning streak (includes a pair of AAC Championship game wins at home).
The best game on Saturday's slate has Auburn and Florida facing off for the first time since 2011 and the College GameDay crew will be on-hand.. Each of these SEC teams is on a significant winning streak with the Gators victorious over their last 9 games and the Tigers winning 6 in-a-row. One team has to give and the computer says it will be Florida falling at home as a 3.36-point underdog.
Only 48 games take place this week with 34 teams idle, including Alabama and Clemson.
I could take Pitt at Duke here, but I'll go another direction.
Virginia Tech at Miami: This is usually one of the top games in the league each year, but neither looks particularly strong. The Hokies have lost 4 of the last 5 meetings with the Hurricanes. Justin Fuente desperately needs an upset win to quiet the disgruntled fan base in Blacksburg. There are only two teams that Virginia Tech fans deem of the utmost importance to defeat each year - Miami and Virginia.
Vegas Odds: Miami, -13.5
Computer Projection: Miami, -3.47
Two coaches on the hot seat are the focus of the game I selected here.
USF at Connecticut: Realistically, I don't expect Charlie Strong (USF) or Randy Edsall (UConn) to be fired this year, but Strong is in more dire shape than Edsall. The Bulls went 10-2 in Strong's inaugural year (2017) and reeled off 7 straight wins at the beginning of last season. Then the wheels came off. USF has lost 9 straight to FBS schools and guess who the last victory came against....
... If you said Connecticut, you are correct. It was a 38-30 win in Tampa October 20.
Just like Strong, Edsall's current stint began in 2017. It hasn't been pretty with a cumulative 5-23 record, but the administration knew they had a dumpster fire in Storrs and that it could take awhile to get the program turned around. Edsall's first stint at UConn ran from 1999 to 2010 and wound up producing 5 bowl appearances that included a Fiesta Bowl berth, but his first three seasons saw the Huskies win a total of 9 games.
The Huskies become an Independent next year as the school moves to the Big East, largely for basketball reasons. UConn paid just over $17 million to exit the American early and another $3.5 million to join the Big East.
Vegas Odds: USF, -11
Computer Projection: USF, -7.95
Ohio State is a 20-point favorite over Michigan State, Wisconsin is playing Kent State and it's not worth talking about. I could select Northwestern at Nebraska because each of those teams is in serious need of a win, but I'm going with Harbaugh vs. Ferentz in "The Big House".
Iowa at Michigan: The computer had picked Michigan to finally beat Ohio State, and ultimately win the national championship. A disastrous 35-14 loss at Wisconsin makes that an almost impossible prediction to see fruition, but the Maize and Blue needs this win. Since returning to his alma mater in 2015, Jim Harbaugh has records of 0-4 vs. Ohio State, 2-2 vs. Wisconsin, 2-2 vs. Michigan State, and 0-1 vs. Iowa.
Vegas Odds: Michigan -4.5
Computer Projection: Michigan, -10.45
It's pretty much a no-brainer that the best game in the Big 12 this week features a 3-1 Kansas State team and a 4-0 Baylor squad.
Baylor at Kansas State: The Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season, and the first loss of the Chris Klieman era, when they fell 26-13 at Oklahoma State this past Saturday. Klieman doesn't expect to lose very often after owning the FCS with 4 national championships in 5 seasons at North Dakota State. The Bears scored a mild upset of Iowa State last week and Matt Rhule has quickly turned the ship in the right direction. Rhule's first team in 2017 went 1-11, but year 2 saw a 7-6 record and a bowl win. One of these teams could find its way into the conference championship game.
Vegas Odds: Kansas State, -2
Computer Projection: Kansas State, -0.47
Louisiana Tech (4-1, 2-0) is idle, along with FAU, North Texas and Southern Miss, so we'll defer to WKU's trap game at Old Dominion.
Western Kentucky at Old Dominion: ODU lost 24-21 to an East Carolina team it was supposed to beat at home last week. Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers notched the 20-13 win that the computer predicted as an upset vs. UAB. WKU will be trying to improve to 3-0 in conference play while the Monarchs have their first conference game of the 2019 season. Old Dominion was 0-4 vs. Western Kentucky until last season's 37-34 win in Bowling Green.
Vegas Odds: Western Kentucky, -2.5
Computer Projection: Western Kentucky, -2.07
BYU will be idle while Notre Dame will be decimating Bowling Green by 55 or so. Meanwhile, UMass is a heavy underdog at FIU. That leaves me with Army at Tulane, or Liberty at New Mexico State. I'll take the Army game as much more intriguing.
Army at Tulane: It's a matchup of 3-1 teams that love to run and Tulane is 9th in the nation while Army is 4th. Willie Fritz is making the Green Wave a team to reckon with, and though the Black Knights are no pushover, I can certainly see Tulane getting its 3rd straight win over Jeff Monken & Co. Look for the Tulane at Memphis game on October 19th to wind up being the determinant game for the CUSA East Division title.
Vegas Odds: Tulane, -3.5
Computer Projection: Tulane, -2.85
Only 5 of the 12 teams in the MAC are above .500 - and only Eastern Michigan and Toledo have lost fewer than 2 games. The Eagles and Rockets are each 3-1 overall. EMU visits Central Michigan (2-3) this week while Toledo hosts Western Michigan.
Western Michigan at Toledo: The Rockets are fresh off a 28-21 mild upset of BYU while the Broncos were a 31-15 winner over Central Michigan. WMU is already 1-0 in the conference with that victory over the Chips while Toledo is playing its MAC opener. This could be the game that ultimately decides the MAC West title.
Vegas Odds: Toledo, -2.5
Computer Projection: Toledo, -1.64
Boise State (4-0) should beat up on UNLV while shockingly decent Wyoming (4-1) is idle, along with Hawaii (4-1) and Fresno State (2-2).
New Mexico at San Jose State: The Spartans have won just one conference game in each of the last two seasons while going 3-22 over-all. SJSU already has 2 victories this season and a third is likely when it hosts New Mexico on Friday night. The Spartans have improved on offense from 123rd last year to 76th entering this contest. They still have a long way to go on defense, though, where they are 115th after ranking 126th a year ago. The Lobos rank 129th on defense but are 37th on offense.
Vegas Odds: San Jose State, -7
Computer Projection: San Jose State, -5.55
This conference is pretty much a mess right now with no clear front-runner. Utah has lost to USC, USC has lost to Washington, Washington has lost to Cal, etc., etc. I suppose you can make a case of Oregon for being the best in the league with the Ducks' only loss caused by their late wilt versus Auburn in the season-opener.
California at Oregon: Was Cal just a pretender when it started 4-0? The loss last week to Arizona State in Berkeley would seem to suggest that's the case, but maybe the Sun Devils are simply that good.. This game should answer the question.
Vegas Odds: Oregon, -18
Computer Projection: Oregon, -22.71
Alabama is idle, LSU is playing a non-conference game against Utah State, and I already wrote about Auburn and Florida at the beginning of this article. That leaves either Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, or Georgia at Tennessee.
Georgia at Tennessee: Jeremy Pruitt needs a win, but it's extremely unlikely he'll get one this week. However, it is possible that his Vols will demonstrate dramatic improvement and play the Bulldogs with some grit and determination. If this becomes an embarrassing blowout, Pruitt's clock on a departure date will start clicking even faster.
Vegas Odds: Georgia, -25.5
Computer Projection: Georgia, -18.76
Appalachian State is idle, as is Louisiana and upstart Coastal Carolina. Troy is out-of-conference at Missouri and Louisiana-Monroe is hosting Memphis. Thus, the best conference game is pretty much taken by default.
Georgia Southern at South Alabama: The Jags have scored a total of 68 points in their last 7 games vs. FBS teams, but Georgia Southern only ranks 90th on defense this season. South Alabama better hope that means that they can keep it closer than the average 41-9 loss they've experienced in 5 previous meetings with the Eagles.
Vegas Odds: Georgia Southern, -11.5
Computer Projection: Georgia Southern, -16.30
Here is the list of the 18 remaining unbeaten teams by conference (note that 5 of these teams are idle this week).:
American: SMU, Memphis State
Mountain West: Boise State (idle)
Sun Belt: Appalachian State (idle)
ACC: Clemson (idle), Wake Forest (idle)
Big 12: Baylor, Oklahoma
Big 10: Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
SEC: Alabama (idle), Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU.
Akron, New Mexico State and Rice are each 0-5. Akron is idle this week while Vanderbilt visits Ole Miss and Rice heads to UAB.
114 games this year pit FBS teams against FCS schools. That's two more than a season ago when FBS teams won 105 of 112 games.
There were just 4 such games last week as Florida blanked Towson 38-0, Pittsburgh edged Delaware 17-14, Syracuse thumped Holy Cross 41-3, and Texas State pulled away from Nicholls State 24-3. There are zero FBS vs. FCS games this week.
FBS teams are 98-3 (.970) for the season. Since we began tracking this in 2003, the FBS schools are 1,422-127 (.918).
FCS victories over FBS teams in 2019:
August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28
September 7: Southern Illinois 45, Massachusetts 20
September 14: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24 (OT)
FCS victories over FBS teams in 2018
August 29: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 31
September 1: Villanova 19, Temple 17
September 1: Northern Arizona 30, UTEP 10
September 1: Nicholls State 26, Kansas 23 (OT)
September 2: North Carolina A&T 28, East Carolina 23
September 8: Maine 31, Western Kentucky 28
September 22: Illinois State 35, Colorado State 19
CLEMSON - Won 20 straight over-all (FBS longest). Won 22 straight regular season games.
Last: 21-20 win at North Carolina on September 28.
Next: Hosts Florida State on October 12.
UCF - Won 19 straight conference games including consecutive AAC titles (FBS longest).
Last: 56-21 home win over Connecticut on September 28.
Next: Visits Cincinnati on October 4.
ALABAMA - Won 29 straight home games (FBS longest).
Last: 59-31 home win over Ole Miss on September 28.
Next: Visits Texas A&M on October 12.
OKLAHOMA - Won 21 straight true road games (FBS longest).
Last:: 55-16 home win over Texas Tech on September 28.
Next: Visits Kansas On October 5.
RUTGERS - Lost 14 straight conference games (FBS longest).
Last: 52-0 loss at Michigan on September 28.
Next: Hosts Maryland on October 5.
AKRON - Lost 10 straight overall (FBS longest).
Last: 37-29 loss at Massachusetts on September 28.
Next: Visits Kent State on October 12.
CONNECTICUT - Lost 19 straight vs. FBS teams (FBS longest).
Last: 56-21 loss at UCF on September 28.
Next: Hosts USF on October 5.
RICE - Lost 13 straight road games (tied FBS longest).
Last: 23-20 home loss in OT to Louisiana Tech on September 28.
Next: Visits UAB on October 5.